Cottage Grove sentinel. (Cottage Grove, Or.) 1909-current, April 15, 2015, Image 9

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Cottage Theatre hits all-time high with Les Misérables
The Cottage Grove Sentinel
s there any production too big or
challenging for the Cottage The-
After a successful opening of the epic
Broadway musical "Les Misérables"
this past weekend, the answer to that
question is quite arguably ‘no.’
The show represents one of the most
ambitious productions in the 33-year
history of the theatre, and the excite-
ment has been running high ever since
its announcement last September, ex-
ecutive director Susan Goes noted in
the program.
The cast of 33, the 16-piece orches-
tra and the production crew deliver on
all of those expectations and make the
audience forget they are sitting in a
community theater.
“I think this production represents the
very best of all the talent that’s avail-
able to Cottage Theatre,” said director
Alan Beck. “From the painters and the
builders, to the technical crews and to
the cast and voices; it’s as good as we
are capable of doing at this moment.”
Managing that amount of talent was
a feat in itself. Beck said that the as-
sistance of music director Larry Ken-
ton and vocal director Mark VanBeever
allowed for the cast to break up into
groups during rehearsals and work on
specifi c aspects of their roles.
“Casting was the key to everything,”
Beck said. “Because it’s so big, you’ve
got to cast people who are self direct-
ing and self correcting; people who
know their business and can take care
of themselves on the stage because
there are so many other things to con-
centrate on.”
In the role of Jean Valjean, Beck cast
Lanny Mitchell, a veteran of the stage
but a relative newcomer to the Cottage
Theatre community. While Valjean
could be a bucket-list role for many
performers, Mitchell had to convince
himself to audition.
“I wasn’t a 'Les Mis' fan because I’m
a gospel singer,” said Mitchell, who
fi rst appeared on the Cottage Theatre
stage in "Assassins." “But then I started
listening to the music, and I wanted to
take on the challenge.”
In "Les Misérables," Mitchell leads
a talented cast of varying backgrounds
and experiences, including many regu-
lar Cottage Theatre performers such as
Ward Fairbairn (Javert), Tracy Nygard
(Fantine) and Marius (Kory Weimer).
The show also received delightfully
impressive performances from young
actors Oceana Taylor (Little Cosette),
Maia Wilhour (Young Eponine) and
Owen Hovet (Gavroche).
“This show could easily be regional
production,” said Mitchell. “The only
difference between this not being a
professional show is we didn’t get paid
for it. That’s it.”
The challenging pace of the show
— 20 scenes over two acts —required
the very best coordination between cast
and crew. Beck said that the fi rst tech
rehearsal took six hours to complete,
but, obliviously, they got it down to
three hours for the show.
The set, which Beck designed, is a
simple yet versatile stone, façade that
can be confi gured for steps, parapets or
the barricade.
However, there‘s more than meets
the eye to this production. In several
instances, the crew had to get creative
with the available space — for exam-
ple, staging the orchestra backstage in
the Rehearsal hall.
Costume designer Rhonda Turnquist
produced a marvelous wardrobe, de-
spite the challenge of a large cast with
multiple costume changes.
The production cost a bit more than
a typical Cottage Theatre show, if only
for the greater expense to obtain the
rights, Beck explained. But the show
has been selling very well, he added.
Which brings us back to the origi-
nal question: is there any production
too big or challenging for the Cottage
“I think this is a big break through
for us,” said Beck. “If we can do this,
and do this well, there’s very little that
we can’t consider doing.”
"Les Misérables" continues at the
Cottage Theatre through May 3 with
Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows
starting at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees
start at 2:30 p.m.
Continued from page 1A
instructional materials can be
moved from room to room for
music instruction.
At the District’s smaller
schools, which have only one
kindergarten class that is of-
ten taught simultaneously with
a fi rst-grade class, educators
say the transition will be much
easier, logistically. Such is the
case at London School, where
Mina Christianson’s K-1 class
will soon host kindergarteners
for the entire day. Christianson
said that, aside from the need
for more educational assistants
at various times, the change
shouldn’t be diffi cult to weath-
er. Latham Principal Anne Fisk
echoed that sentiment.
“It’s not something that
should have a big negative im-
pact,” Fisk said.
To the contrary, many teachers
and administrators say they’re
excited about the opportunities
full-day kindergarten can pro-
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Har-
rison kindergarten teacher Sar-
ah Parsons said. “It’s amazing
when I think about how much
we can get done in a half-day,
and the possibilities of how
much further we can go with a
full day are so exciting.”
Parsons pointed out that, with
about 2 ½ hours of instruction
time at her disposal, reading and
math understandably take prec-
edent and transitions and behav-
ior issues sap precious instruc-
tion time. But with more time,
more subject matter can under-
standably be considered.
“There should be more time
for science and social studies,”
Parsons said.
Educators also believe that
having kindergarten students
at school all day will foster a
greater sense of connectedness
to the rest of their schools.
“We’re a small school that
focuses on doing things school-
wide,” said London Principal
Bill Bechen. “Inviting our kin-
dergarteners to stay for a full
day can mean those students get
to be a part of a lot more of what
we have to offer.”
South Lane Superintendent
Krista Parent said the District
absolutely needs full-day kin-
dergarten, due in no small part
to the disparity of experience
kids get before school age. (Les-
ter pointed out that about 60
percent of incoming kindergar-
teners have had no experience
with outside daycare options, let
alone any form of schooling.)
“So many of our kids are
showing up to kindergarten
without a lot of experience,”
Parent said. “Our kindergarten
readiness scores are absolutely
awful — there’s such a range
between students who can’t rec-
ognize one letter and the few
who show up reading already.
There are all kinds of pluses to
making school a richer experi-
ence for our kids.”
Parents of incoming kin-
dergarteners have shared their
concerns, and some have said
they weren’t appreciative of the
changes full-day kindergarten
“Parents have said that they
don’t think their kids are pre-
pared, that it creates problems
with the schedules of their older
children,” Lester said. Bohemia
recently offered a question-and-
answer session that was attended
by about 60 sets of parents, and
more such events are planned.
Teachers and administrators
say they’ve also been preparing
for some time for the adjust-
ments that need to be made to
ensure the effectiveness of the
school day for a brand-new kin-
“We have to think about pac-
ing and the stamina of our stu-
dents,” Christianson said.
“Our teachers are sensitive to
the need for more breaks and
downtime, especially at the be-
ginning of the year,” Bechen
“Fitting in breaks as needed,
providing time for movement
— these are going to be espe-
cially important,” said Harrison
kindergarten teacher Stephanie
Funding for full-day kinder-
garten is also a high-profi le
consideration at present. In late
March, Tina Kotek, Speaker of
the Oregon House of Represen-
tatives, congratulated lawmak-
ers on passing a biennium bud-
get of $7.255 billion that “will
provide stability for most school
districts while also funding full-
day kindergarten for children
throughout Oregon for the fi rst
time in state history.”
South Lane Superintendent
Krista Parent stated, though,
that the District anticipates a
cost of about $350,000 to im-
plement full-day kindergarten,
adding that the $7.255 billion
State School Fund fi gure of-
fered by legislators will actually
leave South Lane with about a
$700,000 budget shortfall for
the biennium. Still, Parent said
the District will “be okay” even
if such cuts are necessary. And,
as teachers point out, the sacri-
fi ces should be worth it.
“The most important thing is
that we will be able to consider
the whole child,” Parsons said.
“We’ll be closer to meeting all
their needs, including social and
emotional needs in addition to
those of academia.”
Notice of Director Vacancy: Row River District
(Appointment to Board of Directors)
A vacancy will occur on Lane Electric Cooperative’s board of directors for a
position representing the utility’s Row River District. The early retirement of the
incumbent director that served in the position caused the vacancy. Lane Electric’s
board of directors will appoint a member/consumer to serve the remaining portion
accepting applications from members interested in being appointed to the position.
The member appointed to the position will be eligible to seek election to a full three-
Members interested in being appointed to the position should have an interest in
their communities and feel a civic responsibility to their neighbors. Directors have
the same basic duties as other public and private corporations. Primary duties will
include setting policy, approving budgets, contractual considerations, hiring a general
manager, and monitoring the operations of the Cooperative. Applicants must reside
in the Row River District.
Lane Electric members interested in being considered for appointment by
application and information packet.
DW 30
London School Kindergarten Round Up
Wednesday, April 22 nd 4:45 – 5:30 pm
As a K-8 school, London
focuses on hands on
learning in a family centered
Come register your
kindergarten student for the
2015/2016 school year.
We have openings next year in
our Middle School
Classroom as well.
Sunday, April 19 th 5:30 – 10:00
Dinner and Dancing sponsored by cgFEAST
Will be held at the Cottage Grove Public Market
(10 th and Washington)
Dinner options include: wood fi red pizza,
handmade tortillas and tacos, salad, and African vegetarian stew.
First serving is donation based.
Additional items are priced $2.50 to $6.00.
There will be juice, soda, local beer and wine,
plus dessert.
Dancing to live local music from 7:00 to 10:00
Grab your partner for some swing lessons and line dancin’,
then fi nish off with Polka.
Enjoy a fun evening promoting
our local food growers.
For more information call 541-942-2360
Sustainable Cottage Grove
• Meet the Staff
• Enjoy Some Snacks
• Tour Our Campus
• Large Open Classrooms
• Geodesic Art Dome
• Library
• Big School Garden
• Computer Lab
• Learn About Our:
• Whole School Enrichment
• Mixed Aged Classrooms
• Middle School Program
You are welcome to
stay after registration
and be a part of our
Title 1 Science Fair
Family Night. Come
see our student’s
Science Fair Projects
and meet our London
London School
“Quality education in a rural community”
73288 London Road, Cottage Grove, OR 97424
Phone: 541-942-0183 Fax: 541-942-8849
Bill Bechen, Principal—April Sexton, Offi ce Manager